Help for AMDbFront


I love the IMDb web site, which has a phenomenal database of movies, TV shows, actors and others in the industry. But sometimes I want to do searches that they don't support, or I'm offline. The database used by IMDb is available for download, and there are some applications that have been written to make the database easier to use. The one that I use is AMDbFront, which I like using but which was difficult to set up. For that reason, I've written this page to help others like me.

What to Get

To run AMDbFront, you'll need to run MySQL and download all the database files. This will take about 900MB of disk space for the list files, plus another 900MB for the MySQL database files, plus storage for the applications and temp files. Got space?

  • Download the latest AMDbFront from the AMDbFront web site.
  • Download the file from the same web site.
  • Download MySQL from the MySQL web site.
  • Download all the *.list.gz files from I put mine in \My Documents\IMDb Listfiles.
  • Download SyncIMDB from the SyncIMDB web site, used to get the diff files when updates are released (about once a week).
  • Download ApplyDiffs from the ApplyDiffs web page.

AMDbFront Setup

  • Install AMDbFront and follow the directions.
  • Extract the .list files from all the .gz files using WinZip or some other tool.
  • Put the list files in your listfiles directory and delete all the .gz files when you've successfully extracted the .list files.

If all is well, with MySQL and AMDbFront set up properly, then you should be able to search for titles or names in AMDbFront. Next we get set up to handle updates to the .list files so you don't have to download all those huge files ever again.

SyncIMDB Setup

  • Install SyncIMDB.
  • Make a diffs directory under the directory where you keep your list files. Mine is \My Documents\IMDb Listfiles\diffs
  • Make a copy of ApplyDiffsv2.5.exe and rename it ApplyDif.exe and put it in the same directory as the AMDbFront executable.
  • Run AMDbFront and click Edit and Options and the Environment tab. Under Lists-Path enter the full name of the directory where you keep your list files.
  • Under Diffs-Path enter the full name to where your diff files will go. In my case, that's the diffs folder under the one above.
  • Go to in your browser and find the file with the latest date and write down the filename.
  • Run SyncIMDB and where it says local directory, enter the full pathname of where you keep your diff files.
  • Under Last Download enter the name of the most recent diff file, like diffs-041126.tar.gz
  • Click Synchronize and it should go to that ftp site, look at all the diff files, and see that there aren't any new ones.

Handling Updates

About once a week, run SyncIMDB, click Synchronize, and see if it downloads any diff files. When it does, it will put one or more files in your diffs directory. When that happens, do this:

  • Close SyncIMDb.
  • If you have room, make a backup of your existing .list files.
  • Extract the .list files from the .gz diffs file into your diffs folder. (Do NOT overwrite your big existing .list files.)
  • Note that the diff files in the .gz file are already in a diffs folder, so if you extract to the folder above, the files themselves should go in the diffs folder.
  • You can delete the .gz file if you wish.
  • Now you have a set of .list diff files that contain corrections to the big .list files.
  • Run AMDbFront. It should notice that there are now .list files in your diffs folder and ask if it should apply them. Click Yes.
  • If AMDbFront doesn't ask, then it is looking for the diff files in the wrong place, or it can't find ApplyDif.exe.
  • If ApplyDif failed at applying the differences, AMDbFront may not notice and will re-import the old files. This won't hurt, but you won't be up to date. Check the ApplyDif.log file in the AMDbFront directory.
  • Click OK and AMDbFront will launch ApplyDif.
  • ApplyDif will test all of the files to make sure they are intact. If so, it will start applying the changes from the diffs to your main listfiles. This will take a long time.
  • You will be asked if AMDbFront should "Start creating and importing the new listfiles" -- click Yes. This too will take a while. When it says Done, close the progress window.
  • The .list diff files should be gone once AMDbFront is done. If not, then ApplyDif may have failed.
  • AMDbFront will ask if it can "Remove temporary files" -- Click Yes. It will delete the *.del temp files.

Handling Bad Files

In April 2005, the biographies.list file was 0 bytes long. This was causing an IO-Error in ApplyDif. I was able to eliminate that by erasing the 0-byte file before starting AMDbFront, but this just put off the problem. When a valid diff file came along, it was unable to apply to my old, unchanged biographies.list file.

To fix this without downloading all the latest files again, I erased the biographies diff file and let ApplyDif (via AMDbFront) apply the remaining diffs. Then I downloaded the latest biographies list file from the server. This resulted in all the files being up-to-date, and when I dropped in the latest diff, which had a diff for biographies, everything worked fine.

In summary, when a diff file is 0 bytes, erase it and let the rest of the diffs be applied, then download the latest full list file and you'll be current.

For every diff file, ApplyDif will see if there's an applicable file to apply it to. If any file fails, it won't apply any of them. ApplyDif erases the diff files when it succeeds at applying all of them.

Photo Setup

At you can find collections of movie posters and actor photographs. Download whatever files you wish and extract the actors and actress to your C:\Program Files\AMDbFront\pic_names folder, and extract the movie posters to the C:\Program Files\AMDbFront\pic_titles folder. If you've done it right, you should be able to search for an actor in AMDbFront, and when the actor window comes up there will be a Picture tab if there exists a photo for that actor, and likewise for movies.


I hope this page has been of use to you. If you have corrections or suggestions please send them to If you'd like to send money to support this page, that would be good too. :)

Dave Goodman

Text Copyright © 2004-05 by David K Goodman - Last modified 5/10/2005